This is part of the L.A. Times 2022 Gift Guide. See the full guide here. If you make a purchase using some of our links, the L.A. Times may be compensated.
The folks who celebrate their birthdays during the month of December spend their entire lives having their own special day overshadowed by major gift-giving holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah, not to mention the nonstop flotilla of secular celebrations that run from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It’s a list that includes office parties, family get-togethers, potlucks, pop-ins and night outs that seem to be making merry for everything — and everybody — but them.
To add insult to gift-giving injury, (presumably) well-meaning family and friends try to combine both gifts into a (bigger? better?) one. This is not OK. Nor is gifting any pair of items (salt and pepper shakers, earrings, shoes, stereo speakers) at two different times in two different kinds of wrapping paper the least bit clever. Repeat: No December-born person on your holiday shopping list really wants a twofer gift.
Yet the conundrum remains: What do you gift someone you’re already going to be gifting sometime in the same calendar month? How do you acknowledge the December baby’s unfortunate draw in the gift-giving lottery without committing the cardinal two-for-one sin? Try thinking outside the (gift) box with the items below that lean into the zodiac sign symbolism of the month. (Sagittarius, the archer, represents those born from Nov. 22 to Dec. 21; Capricorn, the goat, those born from Dec. 22 through Jan. 19). Or pay homage to other famous folks who blow out birthday candles during the last month of the year (think Jesus, Jay-Z and Taylor Swift for starters) or key into the month’s birthstones (there’s more than one!) or flowers (ditto!). And just maybe this is a good time to make up for your past mistakes and buy them two things on the below list. It couldn’t hurt.
Hello Critter’s Goat Waterfall hike
Celebrate the goat symbolism of the Capricorn-born by taking a woodsy hike with a quartet of rock-clambering, even-toed ungulates 20 minutes from Los Angeles. Organized by Hello Critter, the same goat-loving folks who organize local goat yoga classes (also a gifting option), the two-hour excursion for a party of up to four hikers (additional hikers are $50 each) includes four Nigerian Dwarf goats (retired from the goat-yoga circuit I’m told), a goat handler and a trail guide in a one-mile, 150-foot elevation hike to a local Altadena waterfall. They’ll also provide healthy treats to hand-feed the four-legged hikers who will be available for petting and unlimited photo opportunities. (Gift certificates available.)
$400 at Hello Critter
Pendleton Original Westerly men’s sweater
This brown and tan lamb’s wool, zip-front sweater style first debuted in 1972, and maker Pendleton Woolen Mills notes that it really caught on with fans of the 1998 cult classic “The Big Lebowski” when it was worn by Dec. 4 birthday boy Jeff Bridges’ character the Dude. If you really want to tie the whole gift theme together, why not spring for some vodka, heavy cream and coffee liqueur? And then mix up a few White Russians?
$249 at Pendleton
Netflix gift subscription
Celebrate fellow December baby Janelle Monáe’s latest film role — she plays a character named Cassandra Brand in Rian Johnson’s murder-mystery film “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” — by gifting a subscription to Netflix, where the second film featuring Daniel Craig as Det. Benoit Blanc starts streaming Dec. 23 after a brief run in theaters. Gift cards can be purchased either online for delivery by email or in bricks-and-mortar Walmart, Target or Kroger stores. The funds can be used to help pay for an existing account or start a new one for someone who is more than likely borrowing your password.
Varies at Netflix
Cartoons from the New Yorker 2023 day-to-day calendar
Remind the December birthday celebrant that, while the calendar can be cruel to them in the final month of the year, it can be fun — or even funny — the rest of the time, by gifting them a boxy, little day-to-day cartoon calendar to sit on the corner of their desk. Although the options here are many and varied (“Dilbert,” “Peanuts,” “The Far Side” and Disney animation, to name just a few), it doesn’t get much wittier than the cartoons from the New Yorker calendar (from Andrews McMeel Publishing), which serves up a different black-and-white cartoon by the magazine’s stable of cartoonists on each and every page.
$16.99 at Barnes & Noble
Nialaya blue lapis signet ring
Perhaps as a trade-off for having their birthdays the same month as the year’s biggest gift-giving holidays, the December-born have not one but three (some say four) birthstones; turquoise, zircon, tanzanite and lapis lazuli (a.k.a. blue lapis). Handmade by local jewelry brand Nialaya, this chunky men’s ring is made of gold-plated stainless steel set with an eye-catching blue lapis, which, according to Nialaya’s website, “is believed to help improve mental clarity and self-confidence while providing wisdom and inner strength.” (Who wouldn’t want that?) There are also fetching turquoise pieces on offer, and its brand has a boutique on Melrose in L.A.’s Beverly Grove neighborhood for last-minute shoppers.
$99 at Nialaya
Open Eye Crystals’ Sagittarius candle
This Sagittarius-specific zodiac candle has been dressed (imbued with intention by way of adding herbs and oils) for local metaphysical supply shop Open Eye Crystals by artist and psychic medium Marcella Kroll with red jasper, green aventurine, pyrite, orris root, and sandalwood and rosemary essential oils. Open Eye’s website suggests that you burn the candle “in accordance with a full moon/new moon in Sagittarius, the beginning of the corresponding zodiac season, or anytime you want to invite in the adventurous nature of Sagittarius as a road opener for new adventures, higher learning, and connection to your guides.” (Because Open Eye Crystals is a local, female-owned company with a bricks-and-mortar shop on Pico Boulevard in the Mid-City neighborhood, it makes a good last-minute pop-in-and-purchase option.)
$22 at Open Eye Crystals
Open Eye Crystals’ Capricorn candle
No, you’re not seeing double. This zodiac candle is Capricorn-specific, meaning it’s been dressed (imbued with intention by way of adding herbs and oils) for local metaphysical supply shop Open Eye Crystals by artist and psychic medium Marcella Kroll with garnet, pyrite, high John and cedarwood, eucalyptus and frankincense essential oils. Open Eye’s website suggests that you burn the candle “in accordance with a full moon/new moon in Capricorn, the beginning of the corresponding zodiac season, or anytime you want to invite in the grounded success of Capricorn.”
$22 at Open Eye CrystalsPaperwhite growing kit
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, December has two birth flowers: holly (good for Christmas decorations, but birthdays not so much) and the paperwhite narcissus. So why not show the December birthday celebrant it’s OK to bloom where they’re planted by gifting them an indoor paperwhite growing kit that includes everything (except the water and sunlight) needed to grow some of the fragile-looking flowers such as a ceramic pot with growing medium and three paperwhite bulbs in a burlap sack tied up with a big burgundy bow. They’ll thank you twice — once when they get it and a second time when your thoughtful gift blossoms.
$28.95 at Amazon
Tickets to ‘Ain’t Too Proud — the Life and Times of the Temptations’
It’s nearly impossible to find local live entertainment in the last month of the year that isn’t holiday-themed. That makes “Ain’t Too Proud — the Life and Times of the Temptations” a welcome respite — not to mention the perfect non-Christmas outing for you and that special December baby. Winner of the 2019 Tony Award for choreography, this Broadway musical (written by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Des McAnuff and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo) tells the quintet’s origin story accompanied by some of its most famous hits including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” “Get Ready” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” The show takes the stage at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown Los Angeles from Dec. 13 through Jan. 1.
$40 to $155 at Center Theatre Group
Monogram No. 8 Loosies
Is your December-born giftee of the pot-appreciating persuasion? Then consider showing your solidarity with the end-of-the-year birthday bunch by picking up something from the upscale cannabis line Monogram, whose founder Jay-Z adds another candle to his cake on Dec. 4. There’s a lot to choose from, but a good option is the No. 08 four-pack of Loosies — four tiny .4 gram pre-rolled joints of the brand’s signature herb, each in its own rubber-stoppered tube. About half the size of a standard-issue pre-roll, they’re the perfect personal joint for communal partying in the virus-aware era.
$40 at Calma West Hollywood
Birkenstock Arizona sandal
You know who else celebrates a December birthday? That would be Jesus himself. His Dec. 25 birthday (discounting for the moment the “he may actually have been born in September” train of thought) is the whole reason for the season. That makes a pair of old-school strappy Jesus sandals worth considering as an appropriate wearable homage to gift. Although no one’s exactly sure what style he wore (the Bible has several sandal mentions but no specifics), you can hardly find a more classic — or more comfortable — pair than Birkenstock’s Arizona style that features a latex-cushioned cork footbed, EVA outsole and two-strap natural suede upper with adjustable metal buckles.
$140 at Birkenstock
S by Serena Williams GOAT unisex pullover hoodie
This unisex pullover hooded sweatshirt is a sly nod to the goat, the symbol for those born under the Capricorn sign, as well as the celebration of a GOAT — as in, “Greatest of All Time.” That’s because it also pays homage to Serena Williams with her tennis Grand Slam titles listed on the back and the word “GOAT” in uppercase on the front, each outsized letter filled with black-and-white photo collages of some of her most memorable on-court moments.
$75 at S by Serena
Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ album
If there’s a giftee that’s a Swiftie on your nice list this year, surprise them the way Taylor Swift surprised all of us at the MTV VMAs in August when she announced a new album was on the way and snap up a copy of “Midnights,” Swift’s 10th studio album, which dropped in October. In the words of her own social media post, the new album involves “stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” According to Swift’s website, in addition to 13 songs on a marbled-color CD, each album includes a collectible lyric book with “never-before-seen photos.”
$12.99 at Taylor Swift’s websiteWyllow terpene candle and CBD pre-roll
Marking a December birthday is kind of like burning the candle at both ends celebration-wise, so consider gifting a symbolic version of that with a candle and pre-rolled CDB joint pairing from cannabis brand and microdispensary Wyllow. The soy wax candle, hand-poured in France, is scented with all-natural terpene botanicals (the volatile compounds that give cannabis its distinctive smell) and has a 140-hour burn time. The hemp in the joint (which, if they’re smoking it right, will have a considerably shorter burn time) is sourced from female- and LGBTQ-owned Sonoma Hills Farms.
$45 at Wyllow